Don’t Provide Text Resize Widgets — Educate

Posted September 21st, 2007 by Mike Cherim

To the benefit of the entire industry, I ask that you do the same [help spread the word]

I had once written a text-sizing script, but in the article that accompanied it, I stated I didn’t feel it was really something that was necessary or that should be added to a web page because this is already a function of the browser and really doesn’t bring anything new or marvelous to the table. It’s not that it’s harmful, but rather just needless. Unfortunately, ignorance prevails and lots of people who surf the web don’t know even a fraction of what their browser is capable of. So the responsibility of accommodating the needs of site visitors ends up on the shoulders of the conscientious web developer. But that’s not how it should be.

Ian Lloyd, in cooperation with, is doing something to reduce the high level of ignorance out there, make the web better for all, and relieve developers of the self-imposed responsibility of doing things they shouldn’t have to. Ian is Teaching a man to fish (or how to resize text). In fact, he created a video on the subject and it’s quite good. For anyone who cannot view or hear the video, what follows is a transcript as provided by Ian:

If you are finding it difficult to read some text when viewing a web site you can resize the text up and down to suit your needs. However, by default web browsers — for example Internet Explorer and Firefox — do not make it obvious that you can do this; effectively they hide these useful controls.

Using Internet Explorer, otherwise known as IE, you can change the font size by selecting the View menu item and then selecting the Text Size option — you have 5 size settings to pick from. This is useful to know and once you select this setting, it is remembered for all web sites that you visit.

A better option is to place a text resize control permanently on your toolbar. To do this, press your right mouse button on the toolbar area to bring up the contextual menu and choose ‘Customize’. A list of available toolbar buttons appears on the left. Scroll down to the Text icon and then select ‘Add’. You can also change the display of the icons while you’re hear, just in case you find the toolbar icons a little small too. Once you hit the close button, you’ll see a Text Size control there, making it much easier to change the size.

If you are using IE 7, the process is much the same — right click on the toolbar, but you need to select ‘Customize Command Bar’ then ‘Add or Remove Commands’

In Firefox, you can increase the font size in a similar way to Internet Explorer. Unlike IE, you are not limited to 5 sizes (that being two notches up and two notches down from the default).

Unfortunately Firefox does not provide a toolbar icon for text resizing, even if you choose to customise. However, Patrick Lauke from the University of Salford has created an extension that creates a set of buttons that you can add to your toolbar. Simply go to the Firefox Extensions page and search for the ‘Text Size Toolbar’, or go to Once you’ve installed the extension and restarted Firefox, right click on your toolbar and choose customise. There you will find the resize buttons which you can drag and drop on to your toolbar.

There are other ways that you can change text size on a web page. If you have a mouse with a scroll wheel, simply hold down the CTRL key — or the command key if you are a Mac user — and move the scroll wheel up and down. For Firefox users, hold down the CTRL key and press the plus (+) and minus (-) keys. Finally, if you are using Internet Explorer 7, you can hold down the CTRL key and press the plus or minus keys which will zoom the whole page in and out of view. — Ian Lloyd

Ian wrote me today and kindly asked if I would publish this information and help spread the word. I’m behind him on this 100%, thus here I sit, writing. To the benefit of the entire industry, I ask that you do the same if you have the means of doing so.

10 Responses to: “Don’t Provide Text Resize Widgets — Educate”

  1. Don’t Rebuild the Browser: Educate The User - Joe Dolson Accessible Web Design responds:
    Posted: September 21st, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    […] Thanks to Accessites and Mike Cherim for bringing this to my attention. […]

  2. pbhj responds:
    Posted: September 21st, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    Does this mean that the quote from Ian Lloyd is released under a CC license then? Can it be freely copied and disseminated?

  3. Ara Pehlivanian responds:
    Posted: September 22nd, 2007 at 9:43 am

    Actually, those buttons people throw on could be considered harmful. After all, they’re usually so very, very small, and not resizable themselves:

  4. Jermayn Parker responds:
    Posted: September 23rd, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    @Ara - That is a good point about the size of the images :lol:

  5. Resize for your own eyes » responds:
    Posted: September 25th, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    […] You can view more about this issue on the article about educating internet users about how to resize their text size, and on Mike Cherim’s Beast blog site. […]

  6. Feargal’s blog » Blog Archive » My bookmarks for September 25th responds:
    Posted: September 25th, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    […] Donâ […]

  7. I controlli per ridimensionare il testo sono utili? - responds:
    Posted: September 25th, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    […] Proprio in questi giorni un argomento ha attirato la mia attenzione, trattato nello stesso momento su due siti da sempre interessati all’accessibilità del web. Non so se sia una semplice coincidenza, ma sia che 456BereaStreet hanno scritto due articoli dai toni simili sulle “widget” per ridimensionare il testo delle pagine web. […]

  8. Margie Matteson responds:
    Posted: October 12th, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    You can also use the keyboard commands as follows: Ctrl+ (Control and plus keys) to increase, Ctrl- (Control and minus keys) to decrease, and Ctrl-0 (Ctrl and zero keys) to restore the font settings to the default.

    Not necessarily intuitive, but very fast to use. And relatively easy to remember once you know they exist.

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